EW: “Broadway’s Willy Wonka opens his factory — first look”

EW has a preview of the new Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with lots of great photos!

Hidden Treats in the Chocolate Factory

The official Dahl site has an interesting blog post about first-draft Charlie material that was later cut before publication. For example:

‘The Warming Candy Room’ [was] described as ‘like the engine room of a gigantic old-fashioned ship’, created red sweets that will ‘warm your entire body even on the coldest of days’

I also loved the idea of “enormous snow-white polar bears made out of white chocolate”!

There are photographs of Dahl’s original hand-written manuscripts as well. If you’re a Wonka fan, you should definitely check it out.

Storyteller: The Life of ROALD DAHL | Animated Book Summary

Many thanks to Dahl fan Adam Holownia, who sent us a link to a video he’d created. He said:

To commemorate “Roald Dahl Day” earlier this week celebrating 100 years since his birth, I’ve just created an animation on his life based on the authorised biography “Storyteller“.

‘Being cute just made me miserable’: Mara Wilson on growing up in Hollywood

Mara Wilson

She was the adorable little girl in Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire… then the phone stopped ringing. The former child star lifts the lid on hitting puberty in the public eye.

Where Am I Now?Excellent article from Mara Wilson (who was, of course, Matilda) on her experiences as a child actor who grew up: ‘Being cute just made me miserable’: Mara Wilson on growing up in Hollywood | Film | The Guardian. These days she mainly does voice acting, and you can also follow her on Twitter.

She also has a new book out called “Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame.” I can’t wait to read it…

 

New and updated Dahl-related words in the OED

The folks at the Oxford English Dictionary have announced their latest quarterly update, and there are plenty of Dahl-related words in there!

  • frightsome
  • scrummy
  • scrumptious
  • splendiferous
  • gremlin
  • scrumdiddlyumptious
  • human bean
  • golden ticket
  • Oompa Loompa
  • witching hour

And don’t forget – the new Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary is available too!

More tributes to Gene Wilder; AMC to screen Wonka this weekend in US theaters

The tributes to Gene Wilder continue to appear. I particularly enjoyed these interviews with some of the Wonka kids: Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket) and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt).

“It’s kind of like losing a parent,” said Ostrum. “You know it’s going to happen, but it’s still a shock. He was not in good health at the end and it was not unexpected by any means, but when it happens it hits you like, ‘Gene is gone and there will never be anyone like him again.’”

“He was a gentle man, but he was also a gentleman,” he added. “He treated people with respect and dignity.”

Letters of Note also featured a letter written by Gene Wilder to director Mel Stuart with feedback about Wonka’s costume:

“I don’t think of Willy as an eccentric who holds on to his 1912 Dandy’s Sunday suit and wears it in 1970, but rather as just an eccentric — where there’s no telling what he’ll do or where he ever found his get-up — except that it strangely fits him: Part of this world, part of another.”

For those of you lucky enough to be in the US, AMC Theaters are going to be showing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Blazing Saddles back-to-back at 55 locations this weekend. More details are here!

Gene Wilder, star of Willy Wonka and Mel Brooks comedies, dies aged 83

Gene Wilder as Wonka

Like all Dahl fans, I was incredibly saddened to hear of Gene Wilder’s death this morning. He is the reason that Willy Wonka became the worldwide icon that it is today. I have donated $50 to Alzheimer’s Australia in his memory, and if you are able, I suggest you do as well!

Here are some links to information about him and his work:

Obituaries:

Links:

Tweets:

Videos:

In an interview with Larry King in 2002, Gene Wilder talks about how he got his role as Willy Wonka. Source: CNN

His entrance as Wonka:

 

Question: Did Dahl ever speak publicly or write about his brain injury?

I received an interesting question recently from Amber, a site visitor, and I thought I’d share my answer here for posterity. She asks,

Did Dahl ever speak publicly or write about his brain injury?

My response:

Hi Amber,

You mean from his plane crash in WW2? Interesting question. He’s written about the crash a few times, but I don’t think he ever talked about the lingering effects for the rest of his life.

The first mention would have to be “Shot Down Over Libya” (1942), the slightly fictionalised account of his crash. The introduction: “They hung a label around my neck which said “Flying Officer ––. Possible fractured skull base. Concussion and facial injuries. Church of England.” I knew this because the medical orderly read the label out loud to me at the base hospital. I tried to remember just why that label was there, and why it said these things. I tried to ask someone, but no one heard, so I gave it up and just lay still. Then slowly it all came back; not clearly and brightly at first, but a little dimly, as though by moonlight. In the end, I got it all…”

A few years later, he wrote a short story about a pilot recovering from a similar crash in “Beware of the Dog” (1944). I suspect that Dahl drew from his own experience: “The whole world was white and there was nothing in it. It was so white that sometimes it looked black, and after a time it was either white or black, but mostly it was white. He watched it as it turned from white to black, then back to white again, and the white stayed for a long time, but the black lasted only for a few seconds. He got into the habit of going to sleep during the white periods, of waking up just in time to see the world when it was black…. This is a hospital, he thought. I am in a hospital. But he could remember nothing.”

In his short story “Lucky Break” (1977), he tells the story of the plane crash and mentions how he left the RAF: “At that point, my old head injuries caught up with me. Severe headaches compelled me to stop flying.”

In his autobiography Going Solo (1986), he mentions the headaches again: “I had been at Haifa for exactly four weeks… when suddenly I began to get the most blinding headaches. I got them only when I was flying and then only when dog-fighting the enemy. The pain would hit me when I was doing very steep turns and making sudden changes of direction, when the body was subjected to high gravitational stresses, and the agony when it came was like a knife in the forehead. Several times it caused me to black out for seconds on end. I reported this to my squadron doctor. He examined my medical records and gravely shook his head. My condition he said, was without question due to the severe head injuries I had received when my Gladiator crashed in the Western Desert, and I must on no account fly a fighter plane again. He said that if I did, I might well lose consciousness altogether while up in the air…”

Sturrock’s biography talks about his injuries and speculates that nowadays doctors might have diagnosed him as suffering from postconcussive syndrome. He doesn’t refer to any writing Dahl did on the topic though beyond the pieces I’ve quoted above.

There is a new book out called Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine, written by a Professor who looked after Dahl at the end of his life. I haven’t read it yet, but it purports to contain “anecdotes from Dahl’s late night hospital discussions with Solomon, which give new insights into this remarkable man’s thinking as his life came to an end.” It’s possible that could contain commentary from Dahl on his own injuries.

This was an interesting question to research, so I’m going to add it to the site. I’ll let you know if I ever find anything more!

Regards,

Kris

The BFG stars in the World’s Largest Dot-to-Dot

BFG Dot-to-DotHow cool! The folks at Puzzler in the UK have created the world’s largest dot-to-dot puzzle and projected it onto a beautiful mansion in Surrey. And guess what? It’s a picture of the BFG! You’ll see from the video below that the end result is brilliant.

If you want to try the BFG puzzle yourself, it’s going to be available in the September issue of Creative Dot-to-Dot magazine.

Thanks Alison for sharing this unique project with us!

45th Anniversary Screening of Willy Wonka and COSTUME CONTEST!

The Burbank International Film Festival will be showing a special 45th anniversary screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on September 10th. As part of the celebration, they’re also hosting a COSTUME CONTEST and fans throughout the world are invited to send in photos of their best Wonka-inspired costumes. More details can be found over on the Calendar or on the BIFF website.